Sue Fox, @Properties. Direct 773.816.1788
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Archive for the 'Andersonville' Category
It’s getting hot out there! In the space of just a couple months, Chicago’s housing market has gone from listless to galloping — at least in many of the most popular Chicago neighborhoods such as the Loop, River North, Lincoln Park, Bucktown, Lakeview, Lincoln Square and Andersonville. The latest sales figures from the Illinois Assn. of Realtors just came out, showing that home prices in Chicago jumped 17% between May 2012 and May 2013.
Home sales — the number of properties trading hands — were even stronger, soaring 30% over last spring. In May 2012 there were 2,125 homes sold in Chicago, compared with 2,762 sales last month. Properties are also selling much faster; the average market time in Chicago is now less than two months.
If you’re thinking of buying a home this year or even next spring, it’s time to get serious about the search, because there isn’t much for sale and the best properties sell very quickly. “What is going on with this market?” I had a buyer ask me yesterday. “If I see something I like online, within a day or two it’s already gone.” Yep, that’s now the case in many hot neighborhoods. In Andersonville alone, I’ve been involved in three transactions in the last month where the home sold for list price or slightly under (1 to 2% less) within a week of hitting the market. And in one case in Lakeview, I had a buyer offer a bit more the asking price because we knew the home would attract multiple offers (it did, but my buyer won out.)
There is a supply problem right now in Chicago: not enough homes are being listed for sale, especially in the areas buyers prefer. In order to compete, buyers must be pre-approved for a loan (or, even better, pay cash) and be ready to jump on new listings as soon as they hit the market.
And sellers? Well, you are certainly better off now than you were a year ago. Your home will likely sell fester, and for more money, than it would have last summer. But keep in mind that prices citywide are still much lower than they were in 2006 and 2007. Still, Chicago sellers now have a good chance of attracting a buyer (or even multiple buyers) if they stage their home properly and price it fairly. Let me know if you need help!
Chicago’s housing market is rapidly turning a corner, with prices climbing briskly this spring as buyers jostle for quality homes amid a morass of foreclosures and short sales. The number of homes for sale — which was already low last year — has plunged even further, falling from 14,358 listings in the city in March 2012 to only 7,813 this March, according to the Chicago Tribune.
And by some estimates, more than half of the homes available are distressed properties. The lack of desirable homes is forcing buyers to move quickly when they see something they like, igniting a rash of multiple offers and slashing market times. It now takes an average of 70 days to sell a Chicago home, down about 25% from a year ago.
This is great news for sellers, who have had very little to cheer about for the last seven years. Finally buyers are buying again, driven by a sense of urgency. The median price of a Chicago home was $187,500 in March, up 9% from $172,000 a year earlier, according to data gathered by the Illinois Assn. of Realtors. Chicago condo prices also jumped 9.3% to a median of $235,000.
“It is an excellent time for sellers to move their homes quickly, if priced well in what’s fast become a thriving market,” said Zeke Morris, president of the Chicago Association of Realtors. “The city’s housing inventory in March was down 45 percent compared to the same time last year. Data tells us that buyers are taking advantage of this period when homes are still priced attractively and interest rates are low, concerned that it might not last.”
I just listed a condo in Andersonville, a large 1-bedroom home that had been recently rehabbed, and the first two buyers to see it both made offers. It sold within a week. And such success stories are no longer so unusual. Many properties — the ones in good condition and desirable neighborhoods — are now selling within days.
It’s an odd conundrum: Mortgage rates have never been lower and home prices have plunged, making 2012 an excellent time to buy property… And yet, there are so few places to choose from. Where have all the houses gone?
In Chicago, housing inventory is so low that many would-be buyers have grown frustrated with their search and decided to wait until the spring. As of October 1, there were 37,619 condos and single-family houses for sale, a 17% decrease over a year ago. In fact, Chicago’s home inventory has been steadily falling for years.
Here are the October figures for the last few years, according to data kept by the ITT Technical Institute:
October 2011 45,162 homes for sale
October 2010 51,265 homes for sale
October 2009 53,949 homes for sale
October 2008 60,169 homes for sale
October 2007 67,479 homes for sale
The limited selection has meant long and aggravating searches for buyers eager to find a home. Making matters worse (at least for ordinary buyers who want to live in the home without doing major renovations) many of the houses and condos on the market are distressed properties that need work. When a well-kept home in a desirable neighborhood does hit the market, it often sells quickly and sometimes attracts multiple offers.
This summer, I helped one couple find a 4-bedroom house in Edgewater, in a good school district they had targeted for their children. But the search took six months, and they made offers on at least two or three other homes that went to other buyers. They were very motivated to buy, but the problem was there were hardly any houses to choose from! Another couple I worked with, who were seeking a 3-bedroom condo in Andersonville, Edgewater or Uptown, ran into the same problem and finally decided to keep renting until the spring, when more properties hit the market.
I can think of at least three reasons for the tight inventory: Many Chicago homeowners are still underwater and can’t afford to sell, banks who own foreclosed homes have been holding some of their inventory off the market so as not to further depress prices, and thousands of would-be sellers simply don’t want to list their homes now — at the bottom of the market — when prices look like they will be higher next year or the year after.
Serious Chicago buyers know that they need to be ready to pounce when they see the home they want, before it’s gone. And for sellers, the lack of quality inventory gives them a chance to finally sell their homes, especially if they are in good condition and priced competitively.
The spring of 2012 seems to mark the turning point for the Chicago housing market. We now have several months of solid data showing that home prices and sales are both on the rise, and the latest numbers from May suggest that the market is finally gaining strength.
In May, sales of single-family houses and condos soared almost 20% over the previous year, from 1,703 to 2,037 homes. It looks like buyers are snatching up mortgages with record-low interest rates (or simply paying cash) to take advantage of home prices that rival those last seen more than a decade ago. But prices, too, are now on the rise; the median sale price in May was $203,000, up 6.8% over last May.
Last week, I had a buyer getting ready to make an offer on a condo in Lakeview. She was reviewing comps I’d sent her about six weeks earlier, when we began looking in that area, and she had devised what seemed like a fair price. But wait! I ran the latest comps, which captured all the May and early June sales, and it was immediately clear that prices had already shot up. That’s how quickly this market is moving.
It’s been a relief for many sellers — those who priced their homes reasonably — to see how quickly they were able to sell this spring. Buyers are finally out in force, and they are sometimes getting into bidding wars for the most desirable places. If your home is still on the market this summer, it is likely priced too high. It’s time to take a closer look at the recent sales and adjust your price accordingly, before the inevitable fall slowdown comes.
It’s quite rare to find a house for sale in Andersonville’s beautiful Lakewood-Balmoral historic district for under $1 million. But every real estate downturn has an upside, and today there are several homes — including a genuine fixer-upper — priced closer to the half-million mark here.
The handyman’s special, a dilapidated three-story, turn-of-the-century Victorian complete with a turret, is in such lousy shape that the realtor didn’t bother to post any interior photos. “Not in move-in condition,” the listing advises. “Ideal for complete rehab or build new.” Located at 5453 N Magnolia, this 5-bedroom home has already been on the market for five months and is currently priced at $580,000 (a screaming deal for Lakewood-Balmoral, where a similar home in restored condition would fetch perhaps $1.4 million.)
On the same block, another faded beauty — this one with a third-floor ballroom in need of major work — is for sale at $675,000. Located at 5426 N Magnolia, this 1901 house retains some of its original splendor (the photos depict gorgeous wainscoting and stained glass in the dining room) but, again, the listing warns off casual house hunters. “House needs work, serious investors only,” it says. This home recently went under contract, after more than 6 months on the market.
And right across the street (what is it with this block?) there’s another home for sale, this one a brick 1906 house that looks a bit like a 2-flat from the outside. Priced at $720,000, it has just 3 bedrooms (plus one in the basement), but it also boasts the original staircase, leaded glass windows and built-in cabinetry. It’s been updated, with a newer kitchen and partially finished basement, and it’s been on the market since June.
Recent sales indicate that Lakewood-Balmoral bargains are often quickly snapped up. An updated 4-bedroom at 5410 N Wayne sold for $665,000 in May, while another updated 4-bedroom — this one at 5441 N Wayne on an extra-wide lot with a finished basement — sold for $750,000.
So if you’re in the market for a historic home in one of Chicago’s nicest neighborhoods, now is an uncommonly good time to make your move.
Condo prices have tumbled 10.4% nationwide in the last year, according to data just released by the National Assn. of Realtors. But the plunge was much worse in the Chicago area, where prices dove 24.1% in the first quarter compared to a year ago.
The region (Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, in terms of the realtor’s association) fared worse than almost every other metro area in the country. Only the Tampa and Sarasota regions in Florida and Barnstable Town, Mass., saw condo prices fall further.
No wonder it’s getting so difficult to sell a condo in Chicago. What was once an active market has become seized and sclerotic, with thousands of condos for sale that just sit and sit and sit. I’m now seeing this troublesome trend in desirable neighborhoods like Andersonville and Lincoln Square, as well as much of Edgewater, Uptown, and even parts of Lakeview. Chicago’s North side seems to be awash in condos, may of them recent rehabs or nicely restored vintage units, that languish on the market for months despite their appeal. For many condos, showings are scarce and open houses attract only a few people, even at the height of the spring market.
What is going on here? Are young people, who traditionally drove the market for first-time condo buyers, deciding that it’s simply better to rent? Or are so many of them unemployed or under-employed that they can’t qualify for a mortgage? There are definitely fewer first-time buyers in the market these days; according to the realtor’s association, first-time buyers purchased 32% of homes in the first quarter, down from 42% last year when a $8,000 tax credit was stimulating sales.
If first-time buyers sit on the sidelines, our market will become paralyzed. First-time buyers drive sales by buying at the lower end, which then frees up those sellers to go buy another home. But if people can’t sell their condos, most of them won’t be able to buy again. They will be stuck. And unfortunately, this year many Chicago sellers are discovering that is exactly where they are.
Andersonville, home to the tony Lakewood-Balmoral district of beautiful turn-of-the century homes, is now seeing a variety of historic homes selling at bargain prices. Even some of the gorgeous rambling Victorians — the kind that used to routinely go for more than $1 million — have been selling at sharply reduced prices.
Take 1450 W Summerdale, a 4-bedroom, 3-bath, elegantly restored Queen Anne Victorian that sold in December for $837,000. It was originally priced at $939,000 when it hit the market in May 2010. Or 5418 N Magnolia, a historic 1911 house in Lakewood-Balmoral that was offered “pre-foreclosure” for $975,000 in June. It sold in October for $825,000.
New homes — a relative rarity in Andersonville — could also be found in the bargain bin. 1619 W Winona, a newly constructed 5-bedroom home featuring a media room with a wet bar, a chef’s kitchen, and a roof deck was priced at $925,000 when it hit the market last January. It sold for $867,000 in July.
I’ve lived and owned property in Andersonville for six years, and a few years ago it was nearly impossible to find a single-family house here for less than $500,000. But several Andersonville houses have recently sold in the $400,000 range, including a short sale at 1701 W Farragut that went for $400,000 in September. This one was a lovely 3-bedroom house, built in 1904 but still in good condition, with an updated kitchen. (It lacked a garage, however.)
Another short sale, a 3-bedroom brick Victorian at 1657 W Carmen, sold for $435,000 in August. With an updated kitchen and baths and a lofted third bedroom, the house was originally priced at $575,000 in October 2009. And 1520 W Hollywood in north Andersonville, a cute and compact 3-bedroom in updated condition, sold for $397,000 in August. I remember showing this little blue house to buyers over the summer, when it was priced at $450,000.
So if you love Andersonville’s friendly vibe, the restaurants and shops along Clark Street, the leafy streets and proximity to the lake and Red Line, now is the time to put down roots in a great community where houses used to be out of reach for everyone but the wealthy.
The summer of 2010 was a particularly slow season for Chicago real estate, beginning in May when the federal tax credits for home buyers expired. But now, as summer heads into autumn, house hunting seems to be picking up again.
Super-low mortgage rates are certainly part of the allure. Many Chicago lenders are now offering rates well below 5%… This week I saw that Guaranteed Rate was dangling a 4.375% interest rate on a 30-year fixed loan, which is the lowest I’ve ever seen. These rock-bottom rates make borrowing money quite cheap, meaning that buyers can get considerably more house for the same monthly payment than they would have a few years ago when rates were between 6 and 7%.
At one of my listings, a 2-bedroom condo with parking in the heart of Andersonville, I’ve had three showing requests in the last three days. One of the prospective buyers told me she and her husband just sold their previous home. My theory is that now we’re going to see more buyers like her, people who managed to sell their existing property (perhaps thanks to the tax credits earlier this year) and are now in a position to buy again.
You can really see the impact of the $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers. In June, the final month buyers could claim the credit, Chicago home sales shot up nearly 28% over the previous June, according to data released today by the Illinois Association of Realtors. That marks the 1oth consecutive month of year-over-year increases in Chicago.
But just because more properties are changing hands doesn’t mean home prices are recovering. In fact, the opposite is true in Chicago. The median home price, now $234,250, is down 3.2% compared to a year ago.
Genie Birch, president of the Chicago Association of Realtors, pointed out that the year-to-date number of homes sold in Chicago is up 41% for the first half of 2010 versus 2009. “We believe this is a positive indicator that Chicago’s housing market is stabilizing,” she said. “Motivated buyers and sellers are working toward realistically closing deals at current market values.”
I have my doubts about whether our market is truly stabilizing, or whether we are just witnessing a final surge of home sales fueled by a government stimulus program that no longer exists. Congress has since extended the date to close on a home purchase through September (provided you were already under contract by April 30) to help people seeking the tax credit who were unable to close by June 30, the original deadline.
So we may yet see a slight swell of closings in July, August and September that were actually spurred by the tax credit. But that doesn’t mean our local housing market is healthy enough to stand on its own.
The buyer’s market lives on! Four years into Chicago’s real estate slump, I’m now seeing a handful of historic single-family homes, in generally good condition, on the market in desirable neighborhoods like Lincoln Square, Edgewater and even Andersonville for less than $500,000.
I have some new buyers looking in Lincoln Square, particularly the Bowmanville area north of Foster, between Damen and Western avenues. This is a sweet little pocket of century-old A-frame houses, many of them with porches out front and decks in the backyard.
There are several affordable 3-bedroom homes currently for sale there, including 2209 W Farragut, a handsome house with hardwood floors and an updated kitchen and bath, now priced at $389,000. This house has been on the market since the beginning of February, when it was priced at $435,000.
Then there is 2139 W Berwyn, a pretty Cape Cod house whose roof and mechanicals have been updated and interior has been renovated, including a full finished basement with a family room. Just to give you an idea of how much prices have fallen in recent years, this 3-bedroom home was listed at $589,000 in the summer of 2008. It’s been on and off the market since then, and is now priced at $459,000.
A few of the Lincoln Square houses look like they’ll require a good bit of work, such as 2575 W Argyle, a 4-bedroom house listed just under $400,000. But this house makes up for it with a huge 45 x 160-foot lot, which is 20 feet wider and 35 feet deeper than the standard Chicago lot.
With interest rates still hovering around the 5 to 5.25% mark, this a great time for buyers to take a step up from condo (or apartment) living and find an affordable house with the extra space, grassy yard and a garage that they’ve been missing. Just in time for a summer barbecue!
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